1/ Trump mocked the #MeToo movement in a speech in Montana on Thursday, repeatedly attacked Elizabeth Warren over her heritage, suggested Maxine Waters had an I.Q. in the "mid-60s," derided both John McCain and George H.W. Bush, and vouched for Putin. "You know what? Putin's fine," Trump told the crowd, referring to his upcoming meeting with Putin. "He's fine. We're all fine. We're people. Will I be prepared? Totally prepared. I've been preparing for this stuff my whole life." (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)
Peter Strzok will not automatically respond to subpoena to testify in front of House Committee.
Goelman, when asked by Cuomo why he did not respond with an “automatic yes,” replied, “Because we have come to the conclusion, forced to come to the conclusion, that this is not a search for truth, it is a chance for Republican members of the House to preen and posture before their most radical, conspiracy-minded constituents.”
“From our experience with the committee thus far, it is obvious that they don’t want the truth. They don’t want to hear what Pete has to say,” he added.
And even Mattis had assured us that this would not happen.
But it also comes after Mattis said he would protect certain immigrant recruits who enlist through a program designed to trade fast-tracked citizenship for medical and language skills. Those assurances followed sustained controversy over how the Pentagon has exposed more than a thousand foreign-born recruits to deportation. A background-screening logjam began in late 2016 when fears of insider threats slowed clearances to a glacial pace.
Claiming Native ancestry is actually a highly complex issue. DNA is not an accepted form of evidence to join any tribe in the US. It can be useful for those who were told they had Native ancestors but it’s just a starting point because there is no Blood Quantum rules to join the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. There are blood quantum laws for many other tribes and each enrollment process is different. To actually become a card carrying member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, you must prove lineal descent from the Dawes Rolls that were collected in 1907. Which means not only do you have to find that relative on the Dawes Rolls but you have to show legal documentation proving you are a direct descendant of that person. It can be very difficult to prove direct linage if your particular ancestor was either not recorded, died before the rolls were collected (see The Trail of Tears), or they lived before the rolls were collected.
Yes, Elizabeth Warren should not have called herself Cherokee if she couldn’t prove direct decent, that’s a very common form of cultural appropriation. However using the name Pocahontas as a racial slur is much much worse. It’s just plain ignorant, racist and gross.
Mmm . . . There’s more to this than meets the eye and I’m surprised it’s not getting more prominent coverage. Of course, the most obvious development is in the first paragraph – there appears to be very strong evidence that Manafort was running a “pay for play” scheme: “. . . a banking executive allegedly helped Manafort obtain loans of approximately $16 million while the banker sought a role in the Trump campaign.” However, another huge revelation nearly slid past me in the second paragraph:
Prosecutors say any alleged collusion with the Russian government won’t come up at the trial.
I understand that so far the indictments against Manafort have not mentioned collusion, but they do involve money laundering involving a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party and an oligarch who has close ties to Putin – so I thought there was a chance that issues at least touching on collusion would come up during the trial. Apparently not.
Here’s a piece from The Hill that does a better job of explaining the filing:
Here’s the relevant paragraph in the filing:
Although captioned as a motion to preclude evidence or argument concerning collusion with the Russian government, the defendant’s first motion in limine seeks to preclude evidence or argument on two subjects: collusion and the defendant’s role in the Trump campaign. The government does not intend to present at trial evidence or argument concerning collusion with the Russian government and, accordingly, does not oppose the defendant’s motion in that respect. As discussed above, however, the defendant’s role in the Trump campaign is relevant to the bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy charges in Counts 29 through 32 of the Superseding Indictment. [Emphasis is mine - KJ]
Any opinions out there about this? Anything I’m overlooking?
Another important part of the filing is a response to Manafort’s lawyers’ request that the trial be moved and delayed – both pretty much standard operating procedure for defense lawyers in a case like this. We’ll have to see how those motions play out, but my real concern is with the prosecution’s announcement above. But maybe I’m reading too much into it.
One thing that occurred to me – is it possible that charges related to collusion could be filed separately and be the subject of another trial?
So many overlapping potential areas to indict Manafort on…and thereby ensnare T (big one collusion)…that this is daunting to figure it out. I also believe it is easier for Mueller to use “conspiracy” as a motive, rather than collusion, so legally they are holding off.
You’ve done an excellent job @Keaton_James in trying to discern which crimes - “pay-for-play,” banker/T admin position by way of bank loan, money laundering (this is the current crime I believe he’s being tried for in DC, which Manafort wants to move to VA) and the big prize collusion within T’s campaign, campaign staffers (Manafort) which clearly Mueller is holding off for right now.Leverage is the key here I am guessing.
I can only think that Mueller’s strategy is to tier the charges, bank fraud aka money-laundering with Russians, acting as a Foreign Agent and not declaring it, etc - would have significant jail time. If Mueller wants Manafort to potentially flip, the motive here is to hit Manafort with a LOT of jail time, too many years that he might eventually flip (even knowing there might be a pardon for Federal crimes, he’s still liable in NY State/DC area for money laundering?)
Here’s a few wrinkles…
The special counsel’s criminal investigation is focused on Russia’s alleged attempt to influence the outcome of the U.S. election and is also looking into potential collusion between members of Trump’s team and Russia, as well as any financial ties members of the team may have had to Moscow.
Former FBI director Mueller was appointed by the Justice Department as special counsel in the Russia probe in May, shortly after the president dismissed then FBI chief James Comey in a surprise move that provoked a backlash from lawmakers across both political parties.
And Mueller is not alone in looking into potential money laundering concerning Manafort, with the Senate and House Intelligence Committees also reportedly investigating the topic. Manafort’s financial dealings are also being looked into by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr, both Democrats, probing his dealings over potential fraud and money laundering claims.
And then this -
Mueller has him on fraud…no doubt. The bigger question of collusion is being constructed and threaded everso carefully.
“The broader point, which Mr. Manafort has maintained from the beginning, is that he did not collude with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election.” (Mr. Manafort resigned as campaign manager last August amid questions about his past work in Ukraine.)
Still, the Cyprus documents offer the most detailed view yet into the murky financial world inhabited by Mr. Manafort in the years before he joined the Trump campaign.
And then this -
The age-old-question - “What did the President know, and when did he know it…” with regard to collusion, the Russian government influence peddling, and T campaign buying into it.
Who can answer this? - Manafort, Cohen (now about to flip, and alluding by way of ommision, that Trump did indeed know what the Russian meeting w/ DJT jr, Manafort and Hillary dirt.)
Mueller does know that T did know about the meeting…all he has to do is look up phone records that DJTjr did call his father just after that meeting with the blocked number.
News of Cohen’s legal shake-up has inevitably fanned speculation about whether he would flip. The conjecture appeared to weigh on Donald Trump, who distanced himself from his former personal attorney when asked by reporters outside the White House last week if he thought Cohen would cooperate with the government. “I always liked Michael,” he told reporters.
So a long way of saying, not sure what’s going to go down with bringing charges against T, but we know that is the big kahuna as they say…and Mueller is slowly reeling them all in.
Thanks for the insightful analysis. I went to bed a little discouraged, but this morning, after reading your post, I am restored to optimism!
You make many good points – the one that gives me the most encouragement is that Mueller does not want to get bogged down in murky questions of collusion until after he has flipped Manafort. I recall a legal analyst (don’t remember who) commenting that money laundering crimes (although sometimes difficult to uncover in the beginning) are crimes of a very “black and white” nature. If you have the evidence, it can be very compelling and difficult to refute – whereas (and this is my own thought) crimes of collusion will inevitably have many “gray” areas. So, I’m understanding from what you’ve laid out, Mueller is most likely going for a “clean take down” of Manafort and will sort out the collusion issues later as he moves up the food chain.
We’re all trying to understand the plausible outcomes…just as we are just trying to figure out the weight of the various charges on Manafort now, and how/why T’s name and collusion is left out. Reading these ‘tea leaves…’ is difficult when one (me) is not a lawyer, and so we need to look for nuances, and honestly just spit-balling, right?
And yes, @keaton_James I remember hearing that getting indictments and convictions on money-laundering is easier, because there is a paper trail, bank records. I think that was an MSNBC interview with their top legal experts, one who had worked w/ Mueller and I am trying to figure out his name.
But in doing so I came across this interview on MSNBC…with former US Attorney Paul Fishman. He highlights some information which seems to indicate that whatever they have indicted Manafort on now, there is still more to come. I liken it to sort of a rolling-indictment procedure. Mr. Fishmen mentions that in some filing documents there was a “;” and not a “,” which indicated I believe there are more indictments on Manafort to come.
Interview also says what Mueller might be looking for in terms of relationships (and therefore motive) between Oligarchs and T’s campaign, campaign staff etc.
Here’s a recap of Mueller’s legal team who by their expertise, you can tell directionally where Mueller may be going. They have a wide net right now, but a bunch of indictments.
And Mueller just added more staff too, even his latest lawyer has experience something relating to Michael Cohen - just can’t find it.
More to unravel…and chins up on what we could not possibly know on what Mueller is doing and knowledge that he brought down the Gambino family. On the face of what we see in T’s behavior, just the sheer amount of lying he does is worth it’s weight in gold-(plated toilet seats.)
I had fun tracking down that memo – it’s the one in which Rosenstein defines the scope of the investigation. The two bullets that lay out the allegations against Manafort each end with a semi-colon, indicating that under that big, black, scary redaction that follows, another allegation against Manafort is almost surely lurking (otherwise, the second bullet would end with a period, not a semi-colon).
Side Note: Using semi-colons to separate bulleted items is somewhat antiquated, but all the style manuals I checked confirm that when they are used, the last item should end with a period. Was Rosenstein sticking to conventions? Someday we’ll find out. At any rate, following these bread crumbs was an engaging Sunday diversion.
Here’s the memo. The relevant semi-colon is at the end of the second bullet on page 2. If I were Manafort, I’d be tossing and turning each night on my jail bunk, speculating about what might follow that second semi-colon.
Super-Sunday-Sleuthing and Scrutinizing the Scope of what may come after the Semi-colons. Excellent work digging up the Rosenstein Investigation Scope Memo @Keaton_James. Wow.
Now that you did all the legwork in identifying the said memo, I went looking for other possible clues as to what more they are searching out.
We know that Comey said that the investigation also now included counter-intelligence investigations. See playing favor to Ukrainian interests over US, see payments from Deripaska . This would now be a way to determine if indeed there was collusion, or coordination from US people to help foreign countries with actions and intelligence.
Question - Do we think Manafort was a spy working for Russia, Ukraine, etc? Would the redacted information have to do with ths?
Read from this interesting Washington Post article, dated in April 3, 2018 with remarks on more indictments against Manafort.
Reading tea leaves of course.
1)Mueller was diligent about seeking permission.
Mueller needed to ask him for such permission to expand the scope of the investigation. “Bob Mueller understands and I understand the specific scope of the investigation, and so no, it’s not a fishing expedition,” Rosenstein said.
The big takeaway is that Mueller received permission from Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein in August to look into Manafort’s work for the Ukrainian government.
2)Rosenstein’s memo is heavily redacted and appears to include other approved expansions of Mueller’s scope.
Exactly what things lie behind those black boxes, we don’t know. They could be small and noncontroversial, or they could be big aspects of the investigation and/or things we don’t know about. But there do seem to be plenty of things — which suggests a potentially broad berth Rosenstein has given Mueller.
Mueller is investigating Manafort not just to flip him, but to see if he 'colluded’
Manafort’s ties to Russia and its ally in Ukraine are well-known. But that’s a long way from suggesting that there was collusion. And there has arguably been more public evidence that Donald Trump Jr. attempted to collude with that meeting with a Russian lawyer and that Jared Kushner and Roger Stone tried to communicate with Russia.
But court filings increasingly are linking Manafort to possible collusion as well. Last week, another filing described a Manafort business associate in Ukraine as having had ties to Russian intelligence during the 2016 campaign. And this filing makes clear Mueller was seeking to answer whether Manafort might have colluded with a country he was once indirectly in business with. It doesn’t say how compelling that evidence is, mind you, but it makes it crystal clear that was a focal point of the probe.
Manafort’s defense just took a blow. Will he cut a deal now?
Manafort is the one major figure in this case who is facing charges but hasn’t cut a deal.
I lifted a comment from the comments section (NYWriter) from this WaPo article which one could look at ALL the outstanding information on Manafort, which was derived from the Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America by Isikoff/Corn (haven’t read it though)
Manafort obviously, clearly colluded with Russia while Campaign Manager of the Trump campaign. The facts are these:
Manafort was working as a campaign manager for Viktor Yanukovych, the pre-selected Putin candidate for President of Ukraine.
Manafort & his associate Rick Gates, entered into one of many agreements with Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire oligarch & close friend of Putin, to purchase properties. Deripaska funded this venture.
Manafort & Gates purchased a Ukraine telecommunications company for 18.9 million dollars of Deripaska’s money. They used an elaborate system of shell companies to attempt to hide from Deripaska that they had kept this money.
Deripaska eventually discovered that they had absconded with this money. He sued them.
Manafort fled to the United States.
Weeks later, Manafort volunteered–for free–to work for the Trump campaign.
Manafort then used his position to give Deripaska secret, inside information about the election, in order to remove what was now a very dangerous debt.
Manafort wrote: “I want him to know that we can use this information to make him whole.” Manafort gave the information to Deripaska, who gave it to Putin, who paid for it.
Manafort also offered to covertly change the language in the campaign platform of the Republicans at the Republican National Convention to from providing weapons and support to Ukraine–to providing support to Putin. And then he did exactly this at the Convention.
Manafort, who had been working to service Putin for 15 years before this, was literally working feverishly to save himself–by selling the secret information and the actions of a United States Presidential candidate.
This is a textbook definition of collusion–and criminal conspiracy under Federal law.
Have you guys listened to the conversation between Vox’s Ezra Klein and Lawfare’s Susan Hennessey about the Russia Investigation? They layout what we have learned since January and what the consequences may be in the future. I’m not really an Ezra Klein fan but I felt this conversation was very informative and necessary. Worth a listen.
What have we actually learned about Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, and his administration’s efforts to cover those ties up? What role did Russia really play in the 2016 election? And what are special counsel Robert Mueller’s possible endgames — what can he really do, and when might he do it?
In January, I had Lawfare’s Susan Hennessey on the podcast to guide me through the Trump-Russia case, and it’s one of the most helpful — and popular — episodes we’ve done. Now she’s back, and given how much more we know now than we did eight months ago, it’s an even crazier, more necessary, conversation. Enjoy!